Academic Programs

The Department of Physics and Astronomy has created innovative learning environments in which all students are educated to the peak of their abilities. An internationally recognized research program forms the heart of the department. The participation of our undergraduate and graduate students in this cutting edge research environment stimulates the learning process and grounds them in the concepts and critical thinking needed for successful careers in a wide range of fields. We provide the education needed by diverse student populations, including formal grounding in physics for technical disciplines and a general appreciation and understanding of our physical Universe for non-specialists. Our courses and research reveal the excitement of discovery and its relevance to our everyday life and our understanding of the Universe. 


The presence of 50 active faculty members provides a vibrant and stimulating research environment for all students. It also allows all physics undergraduate and graduate courses to be taught by professors. Three of the nation's most accomplished women scientists are on our faculty. The research environment extends beyond the Department of Physics and Astronomy with collaborations in all of the departments within the College of Science, as well as in many of the Schools of Engineering. In addition, our researchers have strong ties to Discovery Park, including the Birck Nanotechnology Center and the Bindley Bioscience Center.  Many faculty conduct research programs at national laboratories such as Argonne National Laboratory, Fermilab, and Brookhaven National Laboratory as well as at international facilities such as CERN Laboratory.

Educational Programs 

The Department of Physics and Astronomy has educational programs leading to B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees which are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. The undergraduate program consists of four separate basic baccalaureate programs (regular, honors, applied physics, honors applied physics) and three additional more specialized ones, while the graduate program culminates in Ph.D. thesis research in a broad range of areas including condensed matter physics, high energy physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics, biophysics, geophysics, relativity, and interdisciplinary areas of chemical physics or computational science. 

Academic Program Overview

During the typical academic year the department offers approximately 50 undergraduate courses, 12 dual undergraduate-graduate courses, and 16 graduate courses. On average, about 26 B.S., 9 M.S., and 5 Ph.D. degrees in Physics are awarded annually. 19% of undergraduates obtain their degree in 4 years, 29% obtain their degree in 5 years, and 30% obtain their degree in 6 years. About 50% of the B.S. recipients continue their physics education in a graduate program. Currently, there are about 130 graduate students enrolled in the department. The mean time to complete the Ph.D. program is 6 years.

K-12 & Community Outreach

In addition, the Department is committed to encouraging excitement and understanding of science for K-12 students, their teachers, and the general public throughout the State of Indiana. Our Outreach Program provides hands-on learning for K-12 students and the general public. It also provides an opportunity for undergraduate students to earn college credit through Service Learning opportunities.

Our Location

The Department is located at 525 Northwestern Avenue on the West Lafayette campus. It is in the College of Science along with the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Computer Sciences, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences,  Mathematics, and Statistics.

Last Updated: May 6, 2016 2:29 PM